Thursday, November 1, 2012

No man's land?

I've been thinking about my status in the infertility community lately. I'll be honest, I don't even really know where I stand these days. I guess I'm "parenting after infertility and loss," but that doesn't seem to fit. I don't feel finished. Once we start trying again, what that will make me? Am I just "infertile," where I was once suffering "primary infertility?" According to the definition of secondary infertility, I'll never be that: it requires that your first child was conceived naturally. Definitely not me then. What about my loss issues? Regardless of my PCOS, my loss issues still lump me in the infertility category. Even if I manage to conceive on a natural cycle, it's going to require medical intervention to help me carry to term (if I'm even able to do that again)... so again, I am infertile. There's a lot out there on how it feels to suffer from primary infertility, and secondary infertility, parenting afterward, and even about the decision to live child free. I don't see a lot about the in between. It feels a bit like no man's land.

I spent four years with one major focus: to become a mother. Since I've had V, my thoughts have mostly been centered on parenting and healing. Parenting V "should" be the light at the end of the tunnel, and while it's very rewarding, it's not the end of my journey. At least, I hope so, because I had hoped to parent more children. Infertility might not be a major focus in my life, but it's laid it's roots deep, and it isn't going anywhere.

Now I know, infertility doesn't define me. It doesn't consume every aspect of my life, it doesn't force my hand in every decision, it doesn't determine who I am. But in a lot of ways, it does. How I react to entertainment (whether it's books, television, movies) is influenced by my experiences with infertility and loss. Maybe I would have been upset when the main character finds out she can't have kids, maybe the opening scene to "Up" would have always moved me; but because of my experience, being moved, well, it turns into ugly crying at times. Emotionally I have become both very jaded, and very fragile; it's a weird combination. How we make life decisions is heavily influenced by infertility and my miscarriage factors. We spent a lot of money to have V. That financial setback will take years to recover from. Our finances influence so many aspect of our lives, from career to transport, to the hows and whens of future family building. Even if we managed to get pregnant for "free," we would still be faced with all the expenses and unknowns that come with my miscarriage issues. How we have chosen to parent is influenced by how we grew up, and in some ways by what we went through to become parent in the first place. Maybe it isn't a large part, but there's no way going through what we did wouldn't affect our parenting at all.

So, it's true that infertility doesn't define me; but it did help create me.

As we get closer to the new year, we're left waffling back and forth about what we want to do next. We want to, and plan to, try again in the next year. When exactly is less certain. Do we try in January, do we wait until we've replaced our car, after we file taxes, do we wait until I reach my goal weight, do we wait until after the local shelter's 5K, do we keep putting it off and putting it off until next year... saying, "Maybe next month," but never committing? We want to wait and talk to my RE first, but when do we do that? I'm left hemming and hawing, wanting to move forward and take a risk, but also wanting to stay in this moment where everything feels safe.

It's funny how infertility shouldn't be a big part of my life right now, since I'm "parenting after infertility and loss," but it sure seems to be molding my life regardless.

13 comments:

Erin Marshall said...

I don't think that the categories of "parenting after infertility and loss" and "infertile" are mutually exclusive. It seems to me like you are probably one of many women facing this particular scenario. After all, I doubt that every infertility "graduate" is satisfied with a one-child family.

Anyways, you are welcome to join me in "trying after a loss" town if you feel unwelcome in "infertile" city.

AnotherDreamer said...

You're right, they aren't mutually exclusive, and I know I'm not the first (nor will I be the last) person to be in this land. It just feels strange, and in an area where there are so many subsets and designations, this one feels unclear. As if you belong, but you don't belong, and you're here, but you're not here.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Oh, I could have written this post. Exactly. And I feel the same way about this too: "So, it's true that infertility doesn't define me; but it did help create me."

Rebecca said...

I think my concern for you will be the mental toll of the hormones and possible loss. I really hope that you do conceive on the first try and carry to term.

Shelby said...

You're speaking my language! And this feeling of still being in the thick of it only intensifies once you return to the stirrups again.

It's funny-about a year ago, I was really forced into infertility pergatory as I call it. I wanted to join my local RESOLVE group and when they found out I had a kid, they politely asked that I form my own 'secondary infertility' support group instead of attending theirs, as if I didn't fit. And in some ways, they were right. It really made me feel as if I was further undefined. But I know there are many of us out here, focused on parenting, but still stuck in that IF place. You are not alone!

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I could relate a lot to this post too... I agree that infertility and parenting after IF/ loss are not mutually exclusive. I think when you are not a parent yet, it's harder to understand this side of things... but I get it now!

Celia said...

Yes. And also yes. AND ESPECIALLY YES to the fact that we are crippled financially from TTC. I deal with it every day. To be able to afford our son we are in a small house near a busy street with a crappy yard. While obviously worth it, the fact is that where we live..sucks in many ways. I can't take my eyes of Peter for ONE MINUTE. There is a four lane highway with no guard rail just feet from our back yard.

Stacy said...

I just had my second son after 2 losses and TTC for 3 yrs. I had my first son after 1 loss and 1 yr TTC. I feel like TTC the 2nd more emotionally scarring than the first. I wanted him to have a sibling so bad. So here I am with a 4 month old and a 4 yr old. It is weird bc I have "baggage". I still get upset when my family members just get pregnant at the drop of a hat and I have 2 kids! I often wonder what is wrong with me, it doesn't go away!

Stinky said...

It sounds like a spiral (not necessarily a downward one) but that you travel round, you've come full circle, but its not back to the same point you started, its like one level up. Like a spring.
You will never be *exactly* back to square one. But trying to define this, I guess is all about finding 'your place', which I do appreciate must be hard in a world of labels and pigeon holes. I like that ALI seems to be pretty much all encompassing

Me! said...

I'm on my sixth pregnancy - one living child who is, if my current pregnancy works out, will be just shy of five by the time his sibling is born. I'm also one of those jerks who got pregnant the first month trying for DS, and now we've had 3.5 years of infertility, and four losses trying to have a second. We had planned to have four children and I can't imagine ever being "over" this whole experience. When people find out I'm pregnant they say "congrats" and I say "we'll see," and all the usual joy that would come with pregnancy has been replaced with anxiety, stress, and worry. We won't tell DS until we're very far along because I can't bear to see him grieve another baby who never came.

Pepper said...

Love this post. I am with you in the no man's land and I struggle with it on a regular basis.

babywithatwist said...

Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for this post. Our next child will require surrogacy again, and when I weigh the costs, in some ways a second attempt seems almost more difficult than getting our son.

Joanna said...

I too have struggled with being in the no-man's land. It's such a mind-fuck (pardon the language). It just feels so strange. I have my 3 year old son whom I adore. He was from IVF after several years TTC. I had grieved having no more children (my husband is now 50 with a 17 year old and doesn't want more), and it wasn't even a hard grief for me because I think 1 child is about right for us. But then I unexpectdly got pregnant and miscarried at 13 weeks and it re-opened the wounds. And while I think I'm 'over' the loss (mostly) now- it's just always hard in weird ways- when my infertility sisters get pregnant again, when my 'regular' friends get pregnant again. I feel like I'm grieving the loss of the life I want to have- the loss of control- the inability for me and my husband to be the people I want us to be. Just YUK at all this not being happy and satisfied with what I've got! Some days I really wish I was a dog.